Pilot killed in small plane crash near Van Nuys Airport

- A pilot was killed Tuesday in the crash of a small plane into an industrial building just east of Van Nuys Airport.

The plane crashed around 1:30 p.m. into a building at 16145 W. Hart St., fire officials said. The plane was largely demolished when it slammed into the concrete structure near Woodley Avenue.

Ian Gregor of the Federal Aviation Administration said the plane is believed to be an Arion Lightning, a light-sport kit-type aircraft. He said the pilot was apparently performing "touch-and-go'' practice maneuvers at Van Nuys Airport when the crash occurred.

Desmond Shaw, an airborne traffic reporter for KNX Newsradio and CBS2/KCAL9, said he witnessed the crash while heading to an assignment. He said the pilot contacted the tower at Van Nuys Airport and reported hearing a banging noise, and tower personnel responded that part of his landing gear appeared to be loose.

The pilot said he would head back to the airport to land, but never made it, Shaw said.

Further information about the pilot was not immediately released.

"He circled back around and was about to make a descent onto (the runway) and all of a sudden lost altitude and crashed into the side of an industrial building,'' he said.

Greg Cross, who works at a nearby solar company, was taking a break when he saw the plane go up and then come down about "20, maybe 30 feet" above his head.

"I thought I was dead," Cross said.

The small plane clipped a power line and then careened into the ground. 

"The impact sounded like a bomb going off. I mean the impact was so loud," Cross added.

Just after the crash, Cross saw other people running toward the plane. He also saw fuel coming from the craft, so he chased people away.

One of those who tried to get a look was Ana Monroy, who lives across the street. Her daughters, Jennifer Granados and Brenda Dykstra, were at the house too.

"I was shocked because that could have gone into our house," said Granados. "We have the only house on the block in this industrial area. It was scary."

As for Cross, he was understandably very nervous.

"I’ve got an upset stomach. I feel a little jittery. I mean, it was the closest thing I ever came to dying," he said.

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